How do we really see? That’s a simple question that has a fairly complicated scientific explanation that isn’t really complete. At least, what I’ve been able to discover seems technical enough, but it doesn’t really get to the root of it all leaving me with unanswered questions that allow for possibilities beyond the physical.
Ok, so as you’ve all noticed lately, I’ve been reading Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan. This book is all about ‘seeing’ and how she’s developed her higher sensory perception to be able to see auras and light anomalies within and around the body. It’s a skill (or inherent gift) that I still don’t consciously observe (at this time). Yet I’m open minded for it’s clear to me that there is much that we (as humanity) have yet to ‘intellectualize’ that already exists.
Yet there was one phrase written in Hands of Light that caught my eye (no pun intended) on page 163 that I just haven’t been able to leave behind. The author states:
Light enters both through the third eye and through the physical eyes and flows along the optic nerves as shown in figure 18-6.
I wish that I had a digital image of figure 18-6, but I’ll do my best to describe it in just a few words. She’s got an artist’s rendition of a side profile cutaway image of a human head where the cutaway is of the human brain. It’s a middle of the brain slice so the artist drew in the glands that split the two larger lobs. Then, highlighted in a bold dotted line, it’s shows that light rays enter the eye and travel along the optic nerve to the pineal gland.
But the most interesting, more subjective part of the drawing is that the artist also shows another strong bolded line traveling from the center of the forehead through the brain to meet up with the Optic nerve before also arriving at the pineal gland. This path is labeled the ‘Paths of gold light’.
At this point, this is where science and this author differ. It’s also the point where I feel for the author and her attempt to explain the physical receptor of these light rays that she sees. This is also a point where I extend a ‘trust’ to the author accepting that she sees the light that’s talked about throughout the book, but that she has most likely accepted the idea that is not supported by science and just left it at that.
Actually, it’s a little disconcerting and that might be why I’m writing about it here.
Since I’m not really accepting her explanation on how she sees these lights, I figured I’d look into it a little deeper to see if I could find something that made sense. In the process of doing that, I’ve just opened a ‘can of worms’ with regards to the real concept of seeing.
Let’s start with Google. I asked “How humans see” and found 53 million results. It must be my lucky day for the first article that I clicked on did a really good job of summarizing the different parts of the eye and how they work. That article is:
Click the article title to follow the link.
It might be worth spending a few minutes going over that article for it outlines the basic parts of the eye and actually drills down to the Rod and Cone cells in the back of the eye that are the photo receptors.
If you’re into natural food, like I am, you’ll probably find the following side note interesting. From that article the author states:
It is now understood that the human body makes retinal from vitamin A. A picture of retinal and vitamin A is shown in Figure 5. Both the retinal and vitamin A molecules contain a long chain of double bonds. When retinal dissociates from opsin, some of the retinal is destroyed. To replenish the destroyed retinal, it is important to have a source of vitamin A in your diet. Without this source of vitamin A, night blindness can develop as the rods can not function effectively without sufficient sources of retinal.
From the Wikipedia, we find the following molecule for Vitamin A:
From the same source, we find the molecule for Retinal:
Looks pretty similar doesn’t it. This is one of the coolest things regarding organic compounds found in the foods that we eat. Like we saw between the Chlorophyll molecule and the Hemoglobin molecule in the article Is food another form of light, there are basic building blocks in primary atom clusters that are multifunctional in different life forms. I this case, Vitamin A and the molecule that’s used to detect light in our eyes are pretty darn close in their makeup.
Ok. Looking back at the original article, I find another paragraph very interesting.
It is the rhodopsin protein in the retina that absorbs the light that enters the eye. Specifically, it is known that the retinal molecule, which is embedded inside rhodopsin, undergoes photo-excitation by absorbing light. In the photo-excitation process, the rhodopsin absorbs light and is excited to a higher electronic state. Numerous studies have been carried out to try to understand what happens after the rhodopsin absorbs light. Research has shown that upon photo-excitation the retinal part of rhodopsin undergoes a twisting around one of its double bonds (see Figure 4). The retinal then dissociates from the opsin. The change in geometry initiates a series of events that eventually cause electrical impulses to be sent to the brain along the optic nerve. Further research is needed to fully understand this complex process. [Emphasis added]
The two things that I’d like to talk about before getting to the text that I italicized are:
- The twisting
The Wikipedia reports the following about the twisting of the retina molecule:
Vision begins with the photoisomerization of retinal. When the 11-cis-retinal chromophore absorbs a photon it isomerizes from the 11-cis state to the all-trans state. The absorbance spectrum of the chromophore depends on its interactions with the opsin protein to which it is bound; different opsins produce different absorbance spectra.
So, as it turns out, scientists have discovered that the light sensitive molecule found in the eye ‘twists’ when it absorbs a photon. Thus a little light energy can excite this molecule to change.
That action would be related to the photo-excitation that the original article talks about. The Wikipedia talks about it like this:
Photoelectrochemical processes usually involve transforming light into other forms of energy. These processes apply to photochemistry, optically pumped lasers, sensitized solar cells, luminescence, and the effect of reversible change of color upon exposure to light. To the right photons are emitted in a coherent beam from a laser.
Electron excitation is the movement of an electron to a higher energy state. This can either be done by photoexcitation (PE), where the original electron absorbs the photon and gains all the photon’s energy or by electrical excitation (EE), where the original electron absorbs the energy of another, energetic electron. Within a semiconductor crystal lattice, thermal excitation is a process where lattice vibrations provide enough energy to move electrons to a higher energy band. When an excited electron falls back to a lower energy state again, it is called electron relaxation. This can be done by radiation of a photon or giving the energy to a third spectator particle as well
This electron movement into higher orbital’s looks just like what happens when plants absorb sunlight to make sugar. When the Chlorophyll molecule focuses sunlight to spin up carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms into higher energy states, these atoms readily combine together into sugars. It also seems related to covalent bonding for making different molecules out of existing molecules (I talked a bit about this in the posting The Breath of life (or energy).)
So, what can we summarize so far?
Well, we know that the molecule that senses light in our eyes is very much like Vitamin A. And, when the photon of light is added to this molecule, it spins up an atom in the molecule so as to change its form – it twists.
What about that bolded part in the original article:
The change in geometry initiates a series of events that eventually cause electrical impulses to be sent to the brain along the optic nerve. Further research is needed to fully understand this complex process. [Emphasis added]
Now what? It’s great and all that the Vitamin A that we consume gets converted into the retina that’s a photo sensitive molecule that twists when light hits it, but, as it turns out, Paul Harvey doesn’t seem to have the rest of the story here.
How do we really see and why does Barbara Ann Brennan instruct us that these lights come in through the third eye?
It would seem that the act of seeing is not fully described by the process of light hitting the retina of the eye. But, rather, seeing might be a bit more related to how the human processes the light. As the author in the original article points out, “further research is needed” would indicate that no one can scientifically state how we see, yet they can state some of the mechanics of the situation.
This opens up possibilities!
Maybe seeing is more related to interpreting ‘information’ along the optic nerve. What if it’s more of a discernment process rather than a cut and dry one of a photon hitting a retina?
Can’t help but look up the Optic nerve:
The optic nerve is the second of twelve paired cranial nerves but is considered to be part of the central nervous system as it is derived from an outpouching of the diencephalon during embryonic development. Consequently, the fibres are covered with myelin produced by oligodendrocytes rather than the Schwann cells of the peripheral nervous system and are encased within the meninges. Therefore the distinction of nerve is technically a misnomer, as the optic system lies within the central nervous system and nerves exist, by definition, within the peripheral nervous system.
Thinking from the inside out, the brain has 12 main sensory pathways where the optic nerve is just one of them. Along all these different pathways, ‘information’ travels to the brain for processing. Sensory input can come in many different forms – one being visual light stimulating the retina of the eye.
What if there some other part of the central nervous system is able to sense non-visible light in one’s environment and transmit thoughts signals to the brain for processing? Might that be possible?
Now I’m full of even more questions.
- How can a blind person learn to read brail? Can you? I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to make the connection. Just because I don’t have that sensitivity, it doesn’t mean that the blind person can’t do it.
- Why is it that some people can clearly distinguish different odors when most seem to just blend together for me?
- When we close our eyes how is it that we can ‘see’ things? Really. Everyone has the ability to ‘visualize’ things yet that ‘light’ is not coming from the eyes!
At this point, my take on it is that ‘seeing’ is not really done by the eyes, but rather by reading the information that travels through the nervous system. It may be that some people have developed a hyper-sensitivity to being able to understand that information so that the brain can actually process it. If the brain processes the input in a way that makes it appear visual, so be it.
Hopefully, these ideas may spark an understanding that you have that you’ll be willing to share with me. I would love to hear about your experiences ‘seeing’ things that other people don’t have the sensitivities to detect.
From Wikipedia about the retinal:
Retinal, also called retinaldehyde or vitamin A aldehyde, is one of the many forms of vitamin A (the number of which varies from species to species). Retinal is a polyene chromophore, and bound to proteins called opsins, is the chemical basis of animal vision. Bound to proteins called type 1 rhodopsins, retinal allows certain microorganisms to convert light into metabolic energy.
Vertebrate animals ingest retinal directly from meat, or produce retinal from one of four carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin), which they must obtain from plants or other photosynthetic organisms (no other carotenoids can be converted by animals to retinal, and some carnivores cannot convert any carotenoids at all). The other main forms of vitamin A, retinol, and a partially active form retinoic acid, may both be produced from retinal.